The Ukrainian government has announced that it is shoring up security and military forces in the north of the country on its border with Belarus and to the south on what it calls the administrative border of the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea: the exact language of the government and the armed forces of the nation.
Serhiy Deineko, in charge of the State Border Guard Service, was quoted confirming he’d returned from inspecting the Ukrainian border with Belarus and had identified measures for strengthening protection against alleged Belarusian threats.
In his words: “We need to continue building up the system of protecting the state border with Belarus. This applies to the entire section, including the borders of the exclusion zone…we are further strengthening our technical and engineering capabilities. We must ensure the national security of Ukraine from all possible threats.”
That Belarus presents any conceivable threat to Ukraine would be risible if the implications of that accusation were not so precarious. Ukraine has a population of 44 million; Belarus has a population of 9 million. Ukraine has the full force of the U.S., NATO and the European Union behind it (with Britain alone having trained 20,000 Ukrainian troops under Operation ORBITAL); Belarus’ support from Russia is problematic at best and from the Collective Security Treaty Organization non-existent.
The Ukrainian official confirmed that he had inspected unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) complexes and river patrol operations near the border with Belarus, and that he was assured that “border guards paid special attention to strengthening sections of the border with Belarus by rapid response units, including the 10th Separate Rapid Response Detachment Dozor.”
The above measures aren’t occurring in a vacuum. Leading Ukrainian officials have been making unfounded, alarmist statements for months about the nation being threatened by a potential attack from Belarus, especially in September when that nation and Russia will hold this year’s joint Zapad (West) 2021 exercise.
Yesterday Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, passed a resolution condemning Belarus for the landing of a Ryanair aircraft and the arrest of former Azov Battalion hanger-on Roman Protasevich, now a cause célèbre and political martyr to the West.
The resolution in part reads: “By committing this compulsory act of landing a passenger plane, the Belarusian authorities endangered the safety of passengers and crew. These actions are a violation of international civil aviation rules and pose a threat to international security, including the safety of air transport.”
Threat to international security. The U.S. and NATO have gone to war on pretexts less serious than that.
The resolution also states: “The Verkhovna Rada confirms its full solidarity with international partners, primarily from the member states of the European Union and the United States, including the termination of air traffic with Belarus.
“The parliament also fully supports the actions of the government of Ukraine, which, in order to ensure the safety of civil aviation and society, was one of the first European states to impose a ban on air traffic between Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus from May 26, 2021 and strengthened ‘air sanctions.’”
The chairman of the International Affairs committee in the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus, Andrei Savinykh, responded to the above by stating: “We received the statement of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with great regret. It is sad to see how the most important supreme legislative body of our brotherly country is gradually turning into a frivolous political institution, which seeks to act in the interests of foreign centers of influence.”
Belarus is a sufficiently small and conveniently-situated target for an attack by Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania, which all border it. An invasion of Belarus would serve as the full inauguration of the Lublin Triangle and military formations like the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade.
Today the Belarusian state media quote President Alexander Lukashenko as follows: “You see this mounting pressure on Russia, but they cannot jump through Belarus. We cannot turn ourselves into Ukraine.”
On the other end of Ukraine, yesterday the armed forces of the nation disclosed that large-scale military exercises were recently conducted near the administrative border with the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
The maneuvers, which occurred from June 1-3, “not only demonstrated the personal high field and naval skills of servicepersons, but also improved the practical skills of commanders to operate in conditions as close as possible to combat.” The Ukrainian armed forces don’t hold war games of that calibre to prepare for peacekeeping operations in Africa.
At the same time Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal met with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in the Georgian capital, and at a joint briefing the Ukrainian official said: “The ongoing destabilizing actions by the Russian Federation in the Black Sea region prompt Ukraine and Georgia to work more closely in the field of security, including with the involvement of NATO member states.”
Black Sea neighbors Ukraine and Georgia have been paired for NATO membership, both being promised that at the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008. They were granted NATO Annual National Programs later in that year and in 2020 became NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partners.
NATO’s ever-mounting confrontation with Russia and the few allies it has along the entire line of what it calls its Eastern Flank – from the Arctic to the Caucasus – is much more than a cold war at this point. Belarus is its northern, Baltic Sea front and Crimea is its southern, Black Sea one, with the Donbass front in the middle.